José Carlos Garcia, our General Representative Mestre: a joyful, strong and courageous man
Paulo Afonso Amato Condé*
| February 2, 2023
I have the honor of paying homage to our current General Representative Mestre, José Carlos Garcia, on his 75th birthday. I consider him a strong and courageous man, joyful and spontaneous in attitude and always willing to serve.
When I arrived at the União do Vegetal, while still Headquartered in Porto Velho, my wife and I were well received by him and invited to go swimming at a creek, which is very common in the North. We have been friends since then; a friendship that has endured until today (more than 42 years). Much of what I initially learned in the União do Vegetal I owe to him, principally in the Preparos of the Vegetal that we did at Nucleo Estrela do Norte, in Porto Velho, for many years.
For many brothers and sisters of the União, Mestre Zé Carlos was well-known, as they already knew that he was among the first Mestres formed by the Mestres of the Origin, but few knew him personally. His election to the position of General Representative Mestre, the highest position within the hierarchy of the UDV, was the culmination of a journey in which he proved to be a person of trust within the União do Vegetal, having held several other relevant positions in the structure of the Center.
At the beginning of his walk, he resigned from a promising career at Itamaraty (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), foregoing a proposal to occupy an important position and reside in Paris, for a move to Porto Velho in 1976, at the time a small city lacking in infrastructure and with about 170 thousand inhabitants. The decision surprised his colleagues at Itamaraty because it seemed insane to quit a job and a proposal for a high position in an international post to go raise chickens in the remote city of Porto Velho, capital of the then Territory of Guaporé.
But Zeca had found his spiritual path and knew what was most important to him, opting to train with the first Mestres, many of whom resided in Porto Velho at that time. There, he gave continuity to his preparation, as he had been convoked to the Instructive Body while still in Brasília (07/22/1975). He arrived to the Body of Counsel in July of 1976, and to the Cadre of Mestres in December of the same year.
Strength and Courage
One of the General Assistant Mestres, Teodoro Irigaray, remembers an important moment in the Center’s history when Mestre Zé Carlos showed his strength and courage with respect to the União do Vegetal:
“When Mestre Manoel Nogueira received the position of General Representative Mestre in Porto Velho (in 1982), Mestre Zé Carlos was the Secretary of the General Headquarters and made himself available to Mestre Manoel, who invited him to also receive the Assistance for that period. There were difficult moments and Mestre Manoel considered that he [M. Zé Carlos] had been his guardian at that moment, which was overcome with the transfer of the General Headquarters to Brasília. Showing a recognition for the loyalty and firmness of Mestre Zé Carlos.
In the same way, I felt the hand of the Mestre when he moved to Florida (USA), to give continuity to the work we started with the DAV in Gainesville, which brought us closer and strengthened our friendship, born out of admiration for his courage, simplicity and joy.”
Along this path, it is easy to perceive that Mestre Gabriel prepares his disciples and chooses them to occupy places in the UDV. Among the positions and functions held by Mestre José Carlos, we highlight the following:
- During the period in which he was Mestre Manoel Nogueira’s Assistant, he responded for the place of General Representative Mestre and convoked a meeting of the General Administration of the União, which was held in Manaus (AM) – the moment in which the General Headquarters of the UDV was transferred to Brasília;
- Served as Secretary and assisted in the first meetings of the Council of the Recordation of the Teachings of Mestre Gabriel, when many of our Spiritual Guide’s teachings were organized and recorded;
- During the period from 01/06/1989 to 01/06/1994, he was designated as Representative Mestre of Nucleo Estrela do Norte;
- He occupied the position of Central Mestre of the 7th Region (Acre – 1997/2000), of the 1st Region (Porto Velho – 2006/2008) and of the 1st Region of North America (2009/2012), when he moved to the United States. Later, he would become the Founding Mestre of Nucleo Jardim Florescendo (Gainesville – Florida), where he took up residence;
- From 09/22/2018 to 01/06/2021, he was designated as the General Assistant Mestre responsible for the supervision of the União in the international ambit and elected General Representative Mestre for the following triennium.
Mestre Tai Bixby, Central Mestre of North America, shares a bit about his time spent with Mestre José Carlos and his importance in the development and expansion of the União do Vegetal in the United States and Canada:
“Since he started visiting our region in the early 1990s, he has demonstrated friendship and joy, captivating Americans and Brazilians with his happy and spontaneous way of handling things within strength and necessity. Through his thoughtful comprehension of North American culture and music, he has done and still does important work in building bridges of understanding, facilitating the spiritual awakening of our people here.
In 2009, when he was designated as the first Central Mestre in the United States, there was only the Nucleo in Santa Fe and a few Distributions linked to it. He did a beautiful job of structuring people and the Region, building up leaders and inaugurating some new Nucleos, including Nucleos San Miguel, Sagrada União, San Francisco, Claridade Divina, Jardim Florescendo, and Grande Esperança.
He also established the rotation of people occupying positions in the Region, initiating a healthy movement of renewal and fraternal love, teaching the Cadre of Mestres how to enter and leave places of authority with equilibrium and dignity.
In 2017, upon obtaining his religious visa and establishing his residence in Gainesville together with Conselheira Danielle and their son João Felipe, he did an important job as General Assistant Mestre of forming Mestres and Counselors in Florida and in other places around the United States and Canada, truly making Gainesville, his place of residence, a flowering garden.
Having him closer to us, clarifying the teachings of Mestre Gabriel with simplicity, levity, seriousness and truthfulness, has made us feel the trust he has in the work of the Direction of North America, demonstrating that he believes in our ability to “get the message”, and for this we express to him our gratitude and respect.”
To speak about friendship, which is one of the important qualities of Mestre Zé Carlos, I asked our dear friend, Conselheira Jandira Gabriel, to share some words in honor of our General Representative Mestre. She said that speaking about Zeca always moves her very much. She says:
“My friend, speaking about you, a very special person in my heart, is always a joy and you know this.
A person who, from the time we met, we formed a bond of friendship of respect, consideration and joy. There hasn’t been one day when we see each other and don’t laugh a lot. I used to say like this:
– Zeca from heaven, who laughs a lot, grows old early and is slow to reason!
But I’ve already perceived that I was completely mistaken because you continue to be jovial and can reason very well. You are a person that has a very beautiful trajectory in the União do Vegetal, in life and in the creation of the José Gabriel da Costa Memorial.
For me you are a true friend, a friend that I can talk about anything with. I feel very honored and happy also to have Conselheira Danielle as part of this friendship; a very special person, a person that touches my heart, who I have something in common with. For me, it is important to see you, Sir, at the top of the hierarchy of the União do Vegetal, without losing your characteristics, and this makes my heart happy, in seeing your simplicity and humility before the people, in the face of so many things that you have to resolve.
So, I spare no effort to assist you wherever you need it because I see a person fighting, working for the Mestre’s mission. This is why, my friend, I ask God, I ask the Mestre, to always give you and your beautiful Danielle and your son Felipe, to all your sons, daughters and grandchildren health, peace and love. Any may wisdom be your eternal counselor. May God bless this beautiful family. My gratitude for your existence my friend. And always continue in peace and with that smile of yours.”
I share this sentiment and I felt a special joy when I transmitted the General Representation to my friend, for many reasons: for the friendship and for the trust that I place in him, but also because on 01/06/1989 I was supposed to be present to transmit to him the Representation of Núcleo Estrela do Norte, in Porto Velho, but it wasn’t possible at that time because I was in Minas Gerais with malaria. So, in 2021, I made whole on the debt that I owed him, and it was a moment of happiness for me and for many people who also consider him a friend.
On this, your 75th birthday, in the name of the General Assistant Mestres, we hope that God continues to bless you along with your entire family.